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Project Backfire: The Beginning of the End of Gun Crime in Kentucky

NCJ Number
USA Bulletin Volume: 50 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2002 Pages: 36-39
McKay Chauvin
Date Published
January 2002
4 pages
This article describes the formation and work of the Firearm Crime Enforcement (FACE) Coalition of King County, Washington.
In Jefferson County (Louisville), which contains the largest metropolitan area in Kentucky, there are three separate prosecutor's offices charged with enforcing the law: the Jefferson County Attorney (misdemeanor offenses), the Commonwealth's Attorney (felony offenses), and the U.S. Attorney (Federal offenses). The core of Project Backfire is the partnership of these three agencies. The project requires an unprecedented level of inter-jurisdictional cooperation among the prosecutors in committing their resources and resourcefulness to the problem of gun crime. Project Backfire has proposed the coupling of State court volume with Federal court consistency in order to produce consistently aggressive prosecution of gun crimes on a grand scale. In a cooperative endeavor, all the prosecutors of Jefferson County have resolved to undertake an intensive effort to deter gun violence by making the unlawful possession or use of a firearm the swiftest and surest way to be incarcerated in the county jail, State prison, or Federal penitentiary. The prosecutors' offices agreed upon a set of guidelines that focused on three stages of the prosecution function: pretrial detention, probation revocation, and adjudication. This article summarizes the content of these guidelines. The commitment to take gun crime more seriously means more cases will go to trial, more probation revocations will be contested, and more sentencing hearings will be conducted. This has involved a collective effort to obtain and commit more funds for such endeavors. Although problems of implementation persist, it is clear that defendants, who in past years would only receive a fine for carrying a concealed firearm, are now being incarcerated.